Juggling NS, work and serving the President

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02 Mar 2023 | PEOPLE

Juggling NS, work and serving the President

Story by Teo Jing Ting // Photos by Lionel Lee & courtesy of CPT (NS) Armar

English Melayu

He brought out the best in his soldiers and served the President while juggling his previous job as an airline cabin crew. Find out how CPT (NS) Armar Syahid Bin Abdul Razak did it.

CPT (NS) Armar (second from left) and his wife (second from right) receiving the award from Chief of Army Major-General (MG) David Neo (far left). With them is MG Neo's wife (far right).

They were never the best during their active days.

As Officer Commanding (OC) of 769th Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment (769 SIR), Captain (CPT) (NS) Armar Syahid Bin Abdul Razak decided to rally his company and encouraged them to perform better.

It worked. 769 SIR won the Best NS Infantry Unit in the annual Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Best Unit Competition for two years, in 2017 and 2019.

The unit also achieved the highest combat proficiency rating in their Army Training Evaluation Centre (ATEC) Stage 2 for any NS combat unit in 2017 and 2018.

They received a Readiness Condition (REDCON) grade of 2A — the second-highest possible grade — which was a far cry from REDCON 3 (the lowest grade) they got during their active days.

Achieving that was no easy feat and CPT (NS) Armar explained that he had to elevate and maintain his soldiers' morale, as they did not want history to repeat itself.

"I tried to use that fear of disappointment as fuel for motivation instead. It also helped that we won Best NS Infantry Unit twice and that was proof that we were good enough."

CPT (NS) Armar (standing, second from right) with his fellow soldiers after doing well in their evaluation in 2018. [courtesy of interviewee]

During their final evaluation in 2021, CPT (NS) Armar got lost momentarily while leading his soldiers to the objective. When he turned around to inform them about the situation, they simply told him that it was ok and that they fully trusted him.

"As it was the final mission of our final exercise together, I wanted it to end well. I was afraid that if I failed, all their efforts would go to waste," recalled CPT (NS) Armar, who had served close to 15 years as an Operationally Ready National Serviceman (NSman).

He relinquished his NS appointment in 2022.

"So knowing that they trusted me felt really encouraging. Even though I knew that they were very tired, it felt good to know that these soldiers in my company were willing to follow me."

The 38-year-old was among the 190 NS Key Appointment Holders, ROVERS and Volunteers who were recognised for their contributions at an NSmen Appreciation Dinner, held at Temasek Club on 2 Mar.

"As a NS commander and leader, it is my duty to set the stage for my soldiers to excel.

"I feel good when my company trusts my planning and is able to run well once the mission starts without me micro-managing them," said CPT (NS) Armar on leading his company to doing well in their evaluation.

CPT (NS) Armar was a HADC for four years. [courtesy of interviewee]

Serving the President

Currently a Duty Terminal Manager for Changi Airport Group, CPT (NS) Armar used to be a cabin crew with the Singapore Airlines (SIA). He took up this new position last November, after flying with SIA for 15 years.

Despite his hectic flight schedule, the father-of-one also took up the challenge of becoming an Honourary Aide-de-Camp (HADC) in 2018. He served the President for four years, from 2018 to 2022.

"This was a rare opportunity, so I decided to go for it," explained CPT (NS) Armar.

Even though the role was different from that of an OC, he enjoyed every bit of his HADC journey. His experience as a cabin crew helped him ease into the role and he saw it as an extension of his work in the service industry.

"As a HADC, I interacted with and befriended other officers from the different Services, as well as the Home Team.

"Not only was it a good networking opportunity, it was also inspiring to see other NSmen from all walks of life, coming together to ensure that Istana events ran without a hitch," said CPT (NS) Armar.

"Plus point: I also got the opportunity to rub shoulders with Ministers and other country ambassadors!"

CPT (NS) Armar is thankful for the support of his wife, Nabilah (left), who never once complained about his multiple roles. The couple has a 17-month-old son, Nael. [courtesy of interviewee]

My wife, my biggest supporter

CPT (NS) Armar was also fortunate to have the support of his wife, Ms Nabilah Azahar McGhie, as he took on the various roles over the years.

From quietly being there for him through his years of flying as a cabin crew to going through pregnancy alone when he was away, she has never once complained about his hectic schedule.

"It's probably because she's never kicked up a fuss before so I don't realise how easy I had it.

"Even when I had to sacrifice my precious off day to do pre-In Camp Training (ICT) coordination, there were no complaints," said CPT (NS) Armar.

"The best thing she did was to allow me to do all these with a peace of mind and not having to worry about things back home. She really pushed me to do better and encouraged me to reach my full potential."

Last flight: CPT (NS) Armar left his job as a cabin crew last November. [courtesy of interviewee]

At work, CPT (NS) Armar had the help of his colleagues whenever he needed to attend ICT or HADC events.

"They were always cooperative and assisted me whenever I needed help. This meant that someone in the standby pool would have to be activated to replace me on the days when I have flights, so I'm very grateful for their support."

Even though he has completed his NS journey, CPT (NS) Armar (left) still misses the camaraderie and brotherhood with his soldiers.

Missing the good ol' days

Even though he has relinquished his NS role, there is no doubt that CPT (NS) Armar still misses his "good ol' NS days".

Not only has NS instilled a sense of discipline and taught him the meaning of leadership, he also felt that the physical and mental hardships had toughened him.

"I would not be where I am and who I am without NS. I will definitely miss the camaraderie and memories of laughing together, going through tough times together and cooking instant noodles at night with my fellow brothers-in-arms," mused CPT (NS) Armar.

"Till this day, I am still figuring out why instant noodles taste better in the jungle!"

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